2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 3 Nov 2003 17:37:47 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] A fort of ordnance
A fort of ordnance
By Michael Seville
Nov 1 2003 12:00AM  By

Test rockets, artillery shells litter the landscape of former base

FORT ORD - As fire officials continue to monitor several hotspots
dispersed among the rolling hills of the former Fort Ord after last
week's prescribed burn, the reasons for the fire have become astonishing

Looking out over the barren moon-like landscape that was left after the
intentional blaze charred more than 1,450 acres, almost 1,000 more than
expected, hundreds of anti-tank rockets and mortars lay exposed
haphazardly among the skeletons of the maritime chaparral.

"If people could see the amount of ordnance that is out there, they
would definitely understand why it was necessary for us to burn the
area," said Lauren Solis, public affairs officer for the United States

Last Friday, a prescribed burn that was meant to consume only 490 acres
jumped a fire barrier and burned more than 1,450 acres among the 8,000
acre Main Range Area. The area was used by the Army and Navy to test
rockets and artillery shells from 1917-96, which explains both the sheer
volume of ordnance and the different types.

The different types of munitions that were on display include anti-tank
3.5-inch rockets to large 60-millimeter artillery shells, which were
fired from handheld launchers, tanks and enormous cannons.

While the rockets stayed above the surface of the soil, many of the
larger artillery shells landed with such force that they could be
several feet underground and will have to be found with minesweepers and
metal detectors.

Whether the ordnance was above or below the surface, the thick brush
that covered the hills would have made removal of the ordnance nearly
impossible without the burn.

Military and ammunition officials escorted a group of journalists
Thursday into the heart of the areas burned to show the public why the
burn was necessary.

Though detonation of ordnance was heard throughout the burn, which
lasted several days, military officials warned that much of the ordnance
would not have been set off by the blaze.

"The fire did not necessarily detonate all the ordnance, but that is not
what the fire was for," said Colonel Mike Simone of the U.S. Army. "What
the fire did was clear out all the thick brush so that we can see or
allow mechanical instruments to check to see if there is any dangerous
ordnance out there."

A hurdle now facing officials is that there is much more land to clear
of ordnance than was originally planned.

"Now the challenge is that we have more than three times the area to
clear than we were planning on," said Simone. "We have to clear all that
land by next spring so that the vegetation doesn't grow back before we
can clear it out."

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